by Jainam S Jain
Poecilotheria is derived from the Greek words “poikilos” (spotted) and “therion” (wild beast). Regalis means “royal”. They are members of the Arachnida class and the Araneae order. These spiders can be found in the southern regions of the Eastern and Western Ghats in the states of Karnataka, Kerala, Tamil Nadu, and Kerala at elevations of less than 1,000 meters. Because these areas are humid and have a tropical climate, these species prefer areas where the atmosphere is frequently moist. The usual temperature in these areas ranges between 24 and 27 degrees Celsius, which is ideal for spiders.
Indian Ornamental Tarantulas are a relatively elongated species, with males being even thinner than females. They are hardy and grow quickly. Adult females can have a leg span of up to 9 inches (22 cm), while males average around 7 inches (18 cm). Females can live for up to 8 years. Males, like other tarantulas, have a substantially shorter lifetime, living only one-third as long as females. Poecilotheria species seem to prefer flying insects such as moths, they will feed eagerly on crickets, grasshoppers, and large specimens will even feed on an occasional small mouse. Their primary prey consists of various flying insects, which they seize in flight and paralyze.
They are commonly known as the Indian Ornamental Tree Spider or The Indian Ornamental because they are arboreal spiders that reside in tree holes and spin asymmetric funnel webs. These are stunning creatures, with striking markings of black, white, and silver that make them one of the most popular species. The abdomen of this genus of arboreal tarantulas has an interesting fractal-like design. Ornamental Tree Spiders are grey on the outside but have a magnificent complex pattern of whites and blacks in stripes and chevrons on the inside. Adorn in this glorious and commanding ornamentation, they are also known as the Regal Parachute Spider and the King Parachute Spider. There are bright yellow spots under the first pairs of legs, on both males and females, that flash when this spider raises its legs in a defense posture. This has made it a popular choice among tarantula enthusiasts as a pet, although it is a more advanced species to care for due to its arboreal nature and potentially aggressive behavior.
Although there has never been a recorded death from a spider bite because the venom lacks the proteins required to cause a fatal allergic reaction. It is venomous, like other tarantulas, but its bite is not regarded as medically serious for humans, but it can cause pain and discomfort. The large fangs can cause puncture wounds, which can lead to secondary bacterial infection if not treated properly.
According to the IUCN Red List of Endangered Species, these species are classified as Least Concerned, however, their numbers are falling. Population declines can be attributed to a decrease in forest cover in the areas where they dwell, as well as climate change.